Christmas past comes to the Mill

If you want a good helping of Christmas cheer, see Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s Winter Wonderettes. It is set in the past, just like all our best memories of Christmas. It is sweet, with just enough spice to balance the sugar. It is light and fluffy, so you leave the Mill with that happy Christmas feeling, and with room for just a little more.

The show is actually a show within a show. The scene is Harper’s Hardware store, and the Wonderettes are four female employees entertaining the staff at the annual Christmas Party. The time is back in the 60s, when hardware stores could be found in every small town. The excellent set, designed by Tom Width, even reminded me of Harwells’ old hardware store in Chester.

The ladies, Missy (Katrinah Lewis), Cindy Lou (Anna Starnes), Suzy (Ali Wepplo) and Betty Jean (Georgia Farmer) are perfectly matched and sing in beautiful harmony. Their personalities differ: There is a cute, dizzy blonde, a sexy brunette, a soul sister and a down-to-earth redhead, each equally talented. We get to know each woman’s personality and problems as the performance unfolds. The audience becomes the other Harper’s employees and part of the show and they literally ring in the Christmas season, as the girls playing the audience like a Stradivarius.

The show’s songs include those old and new, and some well-known and some not so well-known, but all are tunefully arranged by musical director Paul Deiss and perfectly harmonized by the ladies. They can hoof, too.

Width’s direction and choreography is clever and funny. The cute snow bunny tap was choreographed by Ali Thibodeau. Width’s set, the lighting by Joe Doran and the costuming by Maura Cravey add to the Christmas feeling. Last but not least, The Band (unseen), Deiss at piano, Jay Calabro at bass and James Oyan at drums are excellent. They do not overpower the singers, but rather enhance their performance.

Book your seats for a family show that ought not to be missed. We left the show humming the tunes and feeling light-hearted and in the Christmas spirit. Even the weather cooperated, as there was a light dusting of snow everywhere.

Winter Wonderettes continues through Dec. 31. For show times, call 748-5203.


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